YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – A government panel on Thursday unanimously approved renaming a prominent Yellowstone National Park peak to honor Native Americans rather than the U.S. Army officer who helped lead their 1870 massacre in northern Montana.
The U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted 15-0 in favor of the name change from Mount Doane to First Peoples Mountain, the Missoula Current reported.
According to the newspaper, the 10,551-foot peak was previously named in honor of Lt. Gustavas Doane, a key member of the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition, prior to Yellowstone becoming America’s first national park.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland issued a November 2021 order not only declaring “squaw” a derogatory term but also kickstarting the process to reviewing and replacing derogatory names of the nation’s geographic features, according to The Hill.
Although Doane is credited as a key member of a Yellowstone expedition that same year, the lieutenant also helped lead an attack on a band of Piegan Blackfeet, bragging for the rest of his life about what became known as the Marias Massacre. At least 173 Native Americans – including many women, elders and children suffering from smallpox – died in the attack that was prompted by the alleged slaying of a white fur trader, Yellowstone officials said in a prepared statement, the Current reported.
Yellowstone officials consulted with 27 tribes before announcing the name change, according to a prepared statement.
No objections to the name change were registered, the Current reported.
Piikani Nation Chief Stan Grier called the name change “long overdue” in a statement obtained by NBC News.
“We all agreed on ‘First Peoples’ Mountain’ as an appropriate name to honor the victims of such inhumane acts of genocide, and to also remind people of the 10,000-year-plus connection tribal peoples have to this sacred place now called Yellowstone,” Grier stated.
The Piikani Nation’s traditional territory covers much of Montana, including the Marias Massacre site, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, NBC News reported.
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